Zellerbach Family Foundation: Bay Area Grants

OVERVIEW: The Zellerbach Family Foundation focuses its work on the San Francisco Bay Area, where the Zellerbach family has deep roots. Zellerbach's mission is to be a "catalyst for constructive social change by initiating and investing in efforts that strengthen families and communities." Grantmaking involves areas such as community arts, education and supporting immigrants and refugees. 

FUNDING AREAS: Arts, Education & Youth, Immigrants & Refugees, Communities

IP TAKE: With the exception of Zellerbach's Community Arts Program, the foundation does not accept unsolicited grant proposals. However, the foundation's website is accessible and provides a list of staff and contact information. 

PROFILE: The Zellerbach family traces its U.S. origins to Anthony Zellerbach, who immigrated from Bavaria to the U.S. in the mid-1840s, and moved west to California during the Gold Rush. Zellerbach eventually founded his own paper business. Originally named the Zellerbach Family Fund, the Zellerbach Family Foundation was established in 1956. Today, the foundation's board consists of members of the Zellerbach family and others. The foundation's philanthropy focuses primarily on the San Francisco Bay Area and has the mission of being a "catalyst for constructive social change by initiating and investing in efforts that strengthen families and communities."

The Zellerbach Family Foundation has a number of program areas, but only one of them, its Community Arts Program, is open to unsolicited grant proposals. This program area supports local artists who are creating "new and innovative work that is representative of the diverse cultures and communities of the Bay Area." Grant amounts range from $1,000 to $7,500 and grant applications are evaluated by a rotating panel of local artists. The foundation supports projects in areas such as music, dance, visual arts, festivals, and literature.

Past Community Arts Program grantees include Alayo Dance Company, African & African American Performing Arts Coalition, and ABADÁ-Capoeira San Francisco. (For a full list of recent grantees click here). Keep an eye on the foundation's website for upcoming deadlines.  

The foundation's Improving Human Service Systems program area, meanwhile, aims to "improve the management, practice, and accountability of public systems serving vulnerable children and families." Current grantmaking program includes mental health, child welfare, and juvenile justice service systems. In a recent year, a $75,000 grant went to Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services to "hire a cross-systems trauma informed care coordinator to build capacity and infrastructure across Alameda County Health Care Services departments, contracted providers, and other county departments." Another recent grant went to Alliance for Children's Rights to support ongoing efforts to fund "equitable supports and services for California foster children who are raised by relatives." (For a full list of recent grantees in this program area click here).

The Zellerbach Family Foundation also makes grants through its Immigrants and Refugees program. Recent grantees include a $25,000 grant to Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, as well as grants to Centro Legal de la Raza, and Immigrant Legal Resource Center. Overall, this program takes a "comprehensive approach to facilitating the successful integration of newcomers and encouraging their informed and widespread participation in community life."

Zellerbach's Strengthening Communities program aims to improve public schools and student academic achievement in the Bay Area. Grantees of late include Oakland Public Education Fund and Mission Graduates. A $85,000 grant in 2014 to Mission Graduates supported "a project that engages and empowers low-income Spanish-speaking parents in San Francisco’s Mission District to take active roles in their children’s education."

The foundation's Youth Development Through the Arts gives grants "toward programs in low-income and distressed neighborhoods where youth have the greatest need and are focused on arts-based programs." A series of recent grants have gone to Cal Performances, one of which supported AileyCamp, a free six-week summer program for low-income youth with academic, social, and domestic challenges. 

Zellerbach also makes grants through its Arts Infrastructure and Major Community Institutions program to provide support to major arts and community institutions and its Grant Support program funds cross-cutting activities that address the broad interests of the foundation. 

The Zellerbach Foundation has an accessible website with a full list of recent grants by program area as well as a grants map. In a recent year, the foundation held $125.5 million in assets (down from $134 million previously) and gave away close to $5 million. Community arts grants made up about $830,000 that year across 226 grants, while the rest went towards other causes.


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